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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reading/Watching Log #13

I aimed to get a ton of stuff watched and read this month (otherwise what's the point of holidays?) and the content fell into some pretty interesting categories, including dark fairy tales, Star Wars, anime, dystopias, and the usual scattering of superheroes. Because when the world delves into chaos, diving into fiction is a pretty reliable coping mechanism.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Standing Tall #17

This was another fun one, situated alongside Tall Toys at the Cathedral Junction – an appropriate placement considering the two giraffes had a "child" theme: a wooden toy and an iconic character from a famous children's book respectively.
This particular Queen of Hearts was based on the character from Tim Burton's film given that Helen Bonham Carter's likeness was featured on the giraffe's collar. In fact there were lots of neat details: lipstick, earrings – even fake eyelashes!
Designed by Martyn Giles, it's currently located in the front garden of a home in Sumner, along with all sorts of other Alice in Wonderland themed sculptures and ornaments. I see it every time I drive there, making it one of only about four giraffes (that I know of) which are still visible to the public.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Review: Moana

In C.S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy finds a spell (that's more like a story) in a magical tome that's called "for the refreshment of the spirit". Although she can't remember anything about it but the barest details, I'll always imagine it as being something like Moana, as watching this movie was like having my soul replenished.
To be fair, I was predisposed to love it. Though I'm not Maori/Polynesian, I've lived in New Zealand my whole life and have grown up alongside that culture, listening to the stories of Maui as a child and singing waiatas throughout my school years. Naturally there's no bias whatsoever when I tell you that South Pacific voices are the most beautiful sound upon this earth (don't believe me? Listen to Kiri te Kanawa sing Terakihi and get back to me) and Moana managed to capture the look, feel and sound of Polynesia in a way that gave me genuine chills.
So I was welling up approximately six seconds into the film, and it only got more emotional from there.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Legend of Korra: Night of a Thousand Stars and Harmonic Convergence

So we're definitely heading towards end-game now, which actually took me by surprise as I (embarrassingly) assumed we were only about halfway through this season. Why I thought that I have no idea, but it was a bit of a shock when it became apparent there were only four episodes left. On consideration, maybe it's because this season only really kicked into gear after the Beginnings two-parter.
You can see the writers setting up the board for the final conflict, marking off the checklist that allocates each character a chance to shine, and foregoing the more plot-driven parts of the story in order to focus on pure action. Korra once again takes a backseat in Night of a Thousand Stars so that subplots in the South Pole and Republic City can be brought to their logical conclusion; first with Tonraq and his allies trying to win back the city from Unaloq, and secondly with Bolin becoming a hero in rescuing President Raiko from kidnapping.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Woman of the Month: Elektra Natchios

Elektra Natchios from Daredevil
I didn't know much about Elektra before watching season two of Daredevil; only that she was Greek, was an assassin, and had a tendency to die a lot. I had watched Jennifer Garner as the character in 2003's Daredevil, but I get the distinct impression that she bore very little resemblance to the character as originally conceived. (And I skipped the spin-off film entirely).
Elodie Yung's take on the character gets quite an entrance, in what I think is one of the season's best scenes: Matt stands in the darkness of his apartment, on an elated high after his first kiss with Karen, only to come crashing back to earth when he realizes he's not alone. Reclining on the couch as though she has every right to be there, Elektra greets him with a simple: "hello Matthew" before the credits hit. It was a fantastic introduction.  
In many ways Elektra is defined by her lack of definition, which is my fancy way of saying she has one hell of an identity crisis. When the audience first sees her, we're led to believe she's a spoiled little rich girl; a child of privilege who is almost pathologically self-centred.
But Matt discovers the real darkness in her when she breaks into the house of the man who killed his father, offering him up on a platter for a summary execution. It's done with much the same attitude as a cat that can't understand why you're not delighted with the dead mouse she's just brought you.
And then we find out that she was working for Stick all along, that her relationship with Matt was designed to bring him back into the fold, and that she's only been playing the role of a rich bitch after being put up for adoption as a child.
And THEN it transpires that she's a Black Sky – whatever that means. The writing doesn’t do a particularly good in clarifying the whats or whys of this concept, but even that underlies Elektra's fundamental characterization: that neither she nor we (nor anyone) knows who she is. There's layer after layer after layer, and I'm not sure we ever got to the bottom of them – plus her inevitable resurrection no doubt means there's more to come.
In a lesser show, this could all be dismissed as bad writing, with Elektra coming across as more of a plot device than an actual person. But that they regularly depict Elektra as struggling with various parts of her identity: her upbringing, her understanding of good and bad, her enjoyment of death and chaos, her genuine feelings for Matt and what that means to her – allows her to become a deliberate mystery, even to herself.
(And for what it's worth, I didn't think her death counts as a fridging, since a) she chose it for her own reasons, b) it didn't inspire Matt to do anything he wasn't going to do anyway, and c) it's temporary). 
I await the arrival of The Defenders with anticipation...